Friday, October 31, 2014

If I Could Be Anything...A Guide to Dreaming Big

A princess. A warrior. A flying trapeze artist.

The beauty of asking a child what they want to be is in their reply. When you're 5 years old it's perfectly acceptable to want to grow up to be a princess or a super hero. Why wouldn't that be okay?

Then life happens and we start to realize that some dreams aren't possible. Isn't that a horrible thing? To realize that you can't just decide to be a princess or Superman?

When I was younger, I went through stages (as all kids do). I asked my mom and she said in Kindergarten I wanted to be a "rock star". Um, all right then.  But apparently I also wanted to be a horse trainer. Now that's a good solid career for you.

But then something happened in Jr. High. I started reading more and suddenly the idea of creating my own world and characters sounded more appealing than any other profession. I actually could be a princess if I wanted to--because I would be living through my characters. My best friend and I started creating stories. I'm talking volumes of hand written notebooks filled with horrible spelling and messy letters, but they were our stories.

Into high school the dream lived on. Sure, I loved music, but there was always something about writing. An appeal nothing else could match. Well, I'll say "the rest is history" for now (that's for you, dear readers, because I'm already pushing the "attention span" limit).

Seeing as how today is Halloween, I wanted to take a different route. To think about dreams. I've come up with 6 ways for us not to lose that childlike wonder. Don't let rejection or life circumstances bring you down. Dream big.

6 Ways To Dream Big 

1. Suspend belief
The best way to dream big is to forget that things aren't possible. Now...take this with a grain of reality here. You may want to become the captain of an inter-space armada but, at this point, no one is going to make that one. (Shout out to my Star Trek nerd friends!)

2. Don't be too serious
Second rule of dreaming is to dream. Yes, the realist in you may want to drag down your hopes into the depths of what is possible, but allow your creative child to run free--for a time.

3. Take rejection well
Nothing shatters dreams better than a well timed rejection. But it doesn't have to end there! Figure out why you were rejected and use that to....(move ahead to #4)

4. Learn from your mistakes
Also hard, but I really think that rejection and messing up helps to shape your dream. It's like the clay on a wheel - you need hands to mold it or else it just stays a lump. Don't be the lump, be the hands.

5. Make good friends 
Can't say it enough - your friends will determine your success. Yeah, that's a bold statement, but I really believe that those around us will either encourage our dreams or smash them to bits. Don't get me wrong, a healthy dose of reality is good now and then, but you need friends who can dream with you.

6. Set goals
This is what separates the children from the adults. It's fine to dream big, but then you need to take it to the next step. Set realistic goals to accomplish your dream and then work hard toward those goals.

What about you? What do are you dreaming of?

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Elizabeth Maddrey {Writer Wednesday}

A little bit about Elizabeth...

Elizabeth Maddrey began writing stories as soon as she could form the letters properly and has never looked back. Though her practical nature and love of math and organization steered her into computer science for college and graduate school, she has always had one or more stories in progress to occupy her free time. When she isn’t writing, Elizabeth is a voracious consumer of books and has mastered the art of reading while undertaking just about any other activity. She loves to write about Christians who struggle through their lives, dealing with sin and receiving God’s grace.

Elizabeth lives in the suburbs of Washington D.C. with her husband and their two incredibly active little boys. She invites you to interact with her at her website or on Facebook:

How to connect with Elizabeth...

-->Website: Facebook:
--> Author RE:Interview | Getting to know Elizabeth Maddrey…again
--> You and Writing

Who is one of your favorite authors and why?
...I have so many favorites for various reasons, but Anne McCaffrey is a definite standout. She was able to blend so many different genres into her science fiction that they really have universal appeal. Plus, her characters are so amazing, it’s hard to remember that they’re not my real friends who just live far away.

What is one book or resource you would recommend to other writers? Why? 
...A good editor is a resource you really can’t do without. As a writer, we get so attached to our books that it’s hard to see the places where they’re ugly. Even when we’re looking for those ugly bits, we gloss over some of them. Having someone who will be honest (brutally so, if necessary) about the things that need fixing is critical. And then you just have to remember that you asked for their help, swallow the innate desire to be defensive, and implement the changes.

Share a writing-related milestone with us?
...This month I released my first indie project. I love the small press that has published the rest of my books (and has contracted another series for next year), but I’m pleased to have also taken the deep breaths necessary to dip my toe into the world of self-publishing.

How do you balance your time between writing and other actives? Any helpful tips, tricks, or suggestions? 
...Sometimes I’m not sure I do very well at this! The most helpful thing I try to keep in mind is actually something my husband reminded me of when I was expressing some mommy guilt because I was coming down to the wire with my deadline and I felt like everything else was slipping out of control: life has seasons. I try to keep things balanced and work a little writing into every day while keeping my priorities on the kids, homeschooling, and keeping the house tidy, but sometimes one has to take precedence over the others for a day or longer…and that’s okay. After the major hurdle is past, you rearrange and get back to the more balanced schedule. So it’s a matter of constantly evaluating and adjusting.

-->Your Writing
Tell us a little bit about your book.
...Kinsale Kisses is a contemporary romance that primarily takes place in Cork County, Ireland, though the hero and heroine are both Americans on travel.

Here’s the back cover:
She wants stability. He wants spontaneity. What they need is each other.

Colin O’Bryan cashed out of the software company he founded and started a new life in Ireland. Content to wander from town to town as a traveling musician, he had no goals beyond healing from the betrayals that led to his career change, and finding his next gig.

After the death of her parents, Rachel Sullivan hoped her aunt’s B&B on the Southern coast of Ireland would be a place for her to settle and start a new life. Though she can’t deny the sparks in Colin’s touch, his lack of concern for hearth and home leave her torn. Can this free-spirited minstrel win her heart or will Rachel choose roots and stability over love?
What was one trail you faced when writing it? One success?
...I initially wrote Kinsale Kisses for Pelican Book Group’s Passport to Romance line, but in the time it took for me to write, Ireland went from available to having a novella already contracted. I was bummed. Since it was so specific, there didn’t seem to be much point in trying to submit it elsewhere, but I’d fallen in love with the story and wanted it to have a chance for others to enjoy it as well. So for a success, I guess you could say it finally pushed me to give self-pubbing a try. I’d been kicking it around in the back of my head and this made me do more than that.

Who is your favorite character and why?
...As much as I love Rachel and Colin, I think Rachel’s Aunt Siobhan might be my favorite character. She’s a 70-something, feisty B&B proprietor who’s still willing to reach out and grab life by the horns.

What is one take-away from your book that you hope readers identify with?
...That God’s plans are bigger and better than ours, and when we fail, we need not be afraid to wait on Him.


Favorite writing snack: I try so hard not to snack while I write – if I start, it’s tough to stop. But if I absolutely have to munch, I aim for mixed nuts or a cheese stick.

Book you’re reading right now: Right now I’m beta-reading the second in a fantastic indie Christian fantasy series titled The Dragon’s Tongue. The first in the series is Things Unseen. Both are fantastic!

If you could go anywhere in the world for one month (for free) where would it be and why?
...This is hard. My knee-jerk response is Ireland – I adore Ireland. We’ve been twice and I’m dying to go back again. But there’s so much more of the world to see! My hubby and I are tentatively planning a trip to Scotland for our 20th anniversary next year, so that definitely makes the list but I also desperately want to see New Zealand before too long.

Enter to win a copy of Kinsale Kisses by leaving a comment below! I'll announce the winner next Tuesday.

Thanks for sharing with us Elizabeth! Your advice about swallowing the desire to defend your work to an editor (I'd add critique partner too) is so true and timely for me! I always think I want to hear critique...and yet when it comes it's always hard but good to take. Also love hearing about your next book - I love that its set in Ireland! So great that you've gone there two times already. I'm also extremely jealous of your tentative trip planned to Scotland. That is on the very top of my list :D

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

I Pressed SEND

So...those of you who are friends with me on Facebook or who have *liked* my page (you can do that now if you haven't) may have seen my BIG news. But, on the chance that you didn't, I thought I'd share here.

I sent off my manuscript yesterday! 

A lot of blood, sweat, and tears went into revising it, but now I've set it free. I think the hardest part is waiting...but at the same time, knowing that (no matter what happens) I'm proud of where the story is at now. Sure, it may will need more revision and I'll likely have to go nights without sleep while pulling out my hair, but I wouldn't have it any other way.

 I'll keep you all posted as time goes on about what the next step looks like :D

* * *

Lastly, June from last week offered up a copy of her novel Ryan's Father. We've got a winner...


Congrats, Jenette! I'll be emailing you today and we'll get you your book! 

Monday, October 27, 2014

Nanoing To Success | NaNoWriMo Prep (part 4)

I'll admit that this post isn't necessarily about NaNoWriMo Prep, as much as it is about what to do after National Novel Writing Month.

So there you are. Sitting in a word coma. Shocked you made it to November 30th and your 50k deadline.

Reflected in the whites of your eyes is the bulk of your 30 days of blood, sweat, and tears. Your wonderful, amazing, award winning...okay, more like messy and haphazard, manuscript.

Now what?

First, go take a shower and eat some real food. Then, take at least a month off. Yes, you heard me right. Your hard earned work needs a little bit of alone time before you start ripping it to shreds, because I'm going to give it to you strait.

It probalby sinks.

Now, I won't speak for everyone because maybe you're just really great at writing on the spot for 30 days and not doing any editing, but for the rest of us in the real world, we'll need to spend some time--maybe lots of time--on our book to get it into shape. So, here's my advice for taking the next step with your novel.

 7 NaNoWriMo Novel Boot Camp Tips 

**I'm writing on the assumption you've finished the book. 50k isn't really 'finished' for most novels so you may want to kick in a few extra days/weeks at the end of NaNoWriMo to get to the end before starting in on these steps. 

1. Rest
Maybe you don't have the luxury of stopping all writing completely, but I would highly recommend giving yourself a break from your NaNo novel. Why? Because you've just spent way too many waking hours agonizing over this thing of beauty. It needs time to recede from the shores of your mind so that you can accurately pull it back togehter.

2. Read
Take this glorious off-time to refresh not only your body, but your mind. Pick up a book (not your book) and read, read, read. Enjoy a story that doesn't need to be created! Be inspired.

3. Prepare
As a month (or whatever time period you need) comes to completion, start preparing yourself for edits. Ugh, dreaded edits and revisions! But, as I've come to realize, a book is not written in a first draft, but in multiple drafts.

4. Start
This is possibly the hardest part. Starting the revision and editing process. Take your time, but be diligent.

5. Finish
Push through to the end. You'll be tempted to keep editing the first chapter (or first three in my case) but don't let that keep you from getting to the end.

6. Repeat
Yep, you heard me. Make it to the end, then start again. Revision is a beautiful, delicate process--haha who am I kidding? It can be painful and frustrating! But it's just what your book needs.

7. Release
What do I mean? Let the book go... and I mean it. Really let it go. Have someone you trust read it! I'd recommend someone who has experience critiquing, but get it away from your own eyes and into those of another. They'll be able to see plot or character flaws, and their helpful criticisms will help you grow as a writer, even if you don't like what they say at first ;)

So...are you ready? We've got 4 days and a few odd hours before we get to DIVE IN! I can't wait and hope that I can interact with you all here on the blog.

I'll be doing updates when possible and would love to keep up with your progress here on Thinking Thoughts and on my Facebook page

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

June Foster {Writer Wednesday} + GIVEAWAY

Leave a comment for June at the bottom to enter for a chance to win a copy of her novel, Ryan's Father!

A little bit about June...

An award-winning author, June Foster is also a retired teacher with a BA in Education and a MA in counseling. In 2013, June's book Give Us This Day was a finalist in EPIC's eBook awards and in 2014 a finalist in the National Readers Choice Awards for best first book. Ryan's Father won The Clash of the Titles book of the month for 2014 and is one of three finalists in the published contemporary fiction category of the 2014 Oregon Christian Writers Cascade Writing Contest and Awards. June has written four novels for Desert Breeze Publishing. The Bellewood Series, Give Us This Day, As We Forgive, and Deliver Us, as well as Hometown Fourth of July. Ryan's Father is available from WhiteFire Publishing. Red and the Wolf, a modern day retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, is available from June loves to write stories about characters who overcome the circumstances in their lives by the power of God and His Word. June uses her training in counseling and her Christian beliefs in creating characters who find freedom to live godly lives.

How to connect with June...

Infinite Characters:
Purchase: Ryan's Father

Author Interview | June Foster 

You and Writing

Tell us a little bit about yourself: How did you start writing? What has kept you writing?

...I am a retired school teacher with two children and ten grandchildren. Oh, and yes, one great grandchild. The unique thing about me is I didn't start writing until four and a half years ago. God set me on the road to becoming an author and has kept me there.
...Here's how it began. My husband and I were enjoying our retired life and traveling in our RV. For a while I noticed a story lurking in my head, which had never happened before. When I told it to my daughter and she commented that I should write it, that was the spark the Lord used. I started writing Christian romance and haven't stopped. I've got too many more stories to tell.

Do you have a favorite book or work that you’ve written? If so, why?
...Ryan's Father is probably my favorite because it took courage for me to write and WhiteFire to publish. The story is one that has stepped out of the "Christian box," yet needed to be told. I pray God is changing lives with Ryan's story.

If published, what was the hardest thing about publishing? The easiest?
...The hardest thing about being published is the continual responsibility for marketing. These days, authors are expected to do their own advertising and I am not good at it. I thank God I have a wonderful publicist who helps me. The easiest thing, I think, if celebrating when I hold that book in my hand and see the author's name, June Foster.

Your Writing

Tell us a little bit about your book. Why did you write it?
...Ryan's Father is the story of a young Christian man who loves the Lord and wants to remain obedient to him yet struggles with homosexuality. To make things more difficult, a beautiful young nurse falls in love with him. Though he leads her to faith in Christ, the attraction most guys feel for a woman aren't there. I wrote this story because I'd like to see Christians who struggle with this issue set free.

Do you have a favorite character in this work? If so, why?
...Of course it has to be Ryan. Ryan was the most difficult character I've ever written, especially since I'm a heterosexual female and he was a homosexual male. What I love the most about Ryan is his faith in God and how he allows the Lord to work in his life.

What is one take-away from your book that you hope readers identify with?
...A person struggling with homosexuality can be set free if they truly desire freedom and completely abandon themselves to the Lord.


Where do you find inspiration for your story/characters? Are they based on real life or pure imagination or both?
...My characters are based on real life people I know but are a composite of several rather than just one person. I have to admit, I don't know anyone like my heroine in Misty Hollow, Molly Cambridge, so I struggled with her character.

When you write, what is your overall intention with your stories?
...One of these days, I'd like to write a novel that provides an imaginary place to get lost. But so far, my goal with my books is to write about characters who struggle with problems common to many Christians. My prayer is many will find hope and freedom through their stories.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors for writing and/or publishing?
...Keep on writing and perfecting your skills through critique groups and "how to" books. Toughen up your feelings. You will get many rejections. Don't take any of them personally but learn from them. This has been one of my hardest obstacles to hurtle.


In honor of the fall, what’s your favorite fall treat?
...Hot apple cider and spice cake. 

When you were a child, what did you dream of growing up to be?
...I wanted to be a teacher like my mother and aunt. But now, in retrospect, I think I would've enjoyed being an interior designer or psychologist.

Will you participate in National Novel Writing Month? If so, what’s your plan to keep your writing on track?
...Not sure right now. I never have before, but I might think about it.

Thanks for being my guest today June! I'm amazed at your boldness in writing such a potentially controversial book. I love how God places stories in our hearts for a reason and purpose. We never know what He will do through what we write. And, speaking of spice I want to go make one ;)

Don't forget to leave a comment, readers. I'll announce the winner next Tuesday!

Monday, October 20, 2014

What to do when you're not feeling the NaNo | NaNoWriMo Prep (part 3)

Burn out. Tiredness. Writers block. (gasp!)

It happens to all of us, but when you're in the midst of Nano you do not want to deal with any of these things - or a multitude of other issues you could face. No writer likes to be almost feels as if your creativity is betraying you. Laughing at your lack of ability to write.

Well, I'm here to tell you today that there is no such thing as writers block...

Oh wait, no. Oops. I'm not here to tell you that. That's a real thing. *Cringes* But I am here to tell you that it's okay.

Maybe that's not what you wanted to hear? But it's true. Yes - there will likely come a time when  you are "blocked". Maybe you're not sure how your character will get out of a certain situation? Or maybe your main character suddenly has a heart attack and dies (not preferable at all).

The beauty of NaNoWriMo is that those things are perfectly all right! You know what you do then? You write on.

But it's terrible writing. 
But I no longer have a main character. 
But I can't figure out her motivation. 

You get the point. And what do you do? Write on. Just like Dr. Who is recommending here >>>

You may wonder what I'm getting at. There are plenty of times when published authors are not inspired. What do they do? Sit in a corner an sulk? Probably not. Though mabye they do...?

I'm basically trying to point out that, if they can overcome not being inspired, then so can you!
What you do with lack of inspiration is the important thing.
Here are 5 things that I recommend you attempt when you're at the burn out stage or even the writers block stage. They aren't guaranteed to "fix" everything, but they may help you gain back some of your inspiration, and if not - they can give you strength to keep on writing, despite the dry creative desert you may be in.

5 Ways To Gain Inspiration

1. Take a walk
I don't know about you, but I love being outdoors. The feel of wind on my face, the sun shining or clouds...clouding? Yeah. But, being outside is so invigorating. When I'm feeling stuck, I often like to take a walk and look around me. People watching is a great way to gain inspiration, but also looking at nature reminds us that God is creative too. Pair this with # 5 and  you've got a great combination for inspiration. (Did that sound cheesy or what?)

2. Read a book
No. I'm not saying "steal ideas" but I am saying be inspired by good writing. Often, I will subconsciously learn through the books that I'm reading (another reason it's so important to read authors in your genre and authors who's writing you love). Let their words encourage you - and remember, they had off days (weeks, months, years) too!

3. Plan, plot, proceed
When I say "write on" I really do mean it. But, Emilie, you protest, I'm uninspired!  I hear you, and I sympathize, but I will play the unaffected drill sergeant and say, "I don't care if you're uninspired, I want you to WRITE!" Plan out where you're going - even if it's not thrilling to you at the moment. Plot your hero/heroin's next moves. And proceed! Yes, it maybe awful writing but I have a feeling sooner rather than later you'll be on a roll again. Inspiration is funny like that. Fleeting for a few moments but quickly found when you least expect it.

4. Talk it out
This is where those writing buddies I mentioned before come in. Complain to them. Do a little whining. Maybe even bash your characters to them, but then talk it out. Have them help you gain back that inspiration or burst through that writers block. Even if you don't like their ideas, you may find yourself back on track due to their influence.

5. Pray
We write for more than just ourselves. Bearing the burden of ideas and the words to carry them out is a gift. You may feel like you're "just writing a novel" for NaNoWriMo, but it's so much more than that. When all else fails, take time to refocus your heart. Even a silly little novel written for Nano can become something amazing.

Are you encouraged my friends? Make sure to come back to this post if you find yourself drowning in the midst of November. We'll all probably hit a wall here and there, but these things can help when you feel like your creative well has momentarily dried up.

What do you do to gain inspiration?

***Check out last week's post here. And part 1 here.

Friday, October 17, 2014

2014 NaNoWriMo Support

As writers, we face our glowing screens more than we see human faces sometimes. Our fingers get accustomed to the clicking of keys, and our bodies to occupying chairs.

It's not a bad life, really. Especially if you're like me - and introverted extrovert ;-)

BUT - relying solely on ourselves for all things writing related gets difficult. No matter how introverted you are, you still need people. Say it with me: People are friends, not food. Oh wait--that's something different....

Anyway, back to my point. We need friends to make it in this world of writing. Especially if we're going to put ourselves through the torture fun of writing a 50,000 word novel in a month.

Enter...Exhibit A: A Facebook NaNoWriMo Support group! Come know you want to cheer right now! 

Exhibit B: Yep, that's the digitized you.

Exhibit C: A cheesy graphic representing all the fun people you'll meet in this group! Don't worry, we won't be holding hands...

So, what more do I need to do to convince you to join the group? Probably not much, right? It was the photos, wasn't it?

If I have indeed convinced you to hop on the Nano train, then let me convince you to join the Nano support group. Right now we're in the brainstorming stage and I'm posting some helpful things to inspire, encourage, and insight enthusiasm about Nov 1.

Once we hit "go time", we'll be doing things like word count checks, word sprints, communal complaining, and maybe even some fun video sharing of "writers in real time". The possibilities are endless as is the encouragement you'll find among a community of writers all facing the same thing - lack of sleep, over use of caffeine, and the voices in our heads telling us what to do.

Request to join the group today:

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Cari Schaeffer {Writer Wednesday}

A little bit about Cari...

Cari has worn numerous hats in life. She proudly wore the uniform of the US Air Force. After serving, she worked as a critical care RN for almost a decade. She also owned her own Personal Chef and Catering company for six years. Finally, she chose to turn her attention back to her family.
Closing her business hasn’t made her a couch potato. She cooks at the weekly Wednesday night dinners for her church, and volunteers at the Cross Talk Café in support of the Celebrate Recovery church ministry on Friday nights. She has volunteered her time as a Mentor Mom for two MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) groups. When she’s not busy in the church doors, she’s happily entertaining people in her home.

She not only has a passion for writing, but also for serving. She views writing as a form of service for people from all walks of life. Jesus used story-telling to convey life principles, why can’t we do the same?

She lives in southern Illinois with her ridiculously patient husband of twenty four years, three children, and her two Chihuahua guard dogs, Snoopy and Stanley. Faith, Hope, Love, and Chocolate is her first novel.

How to connect with Cari...

Facebook: Cari Schaeffer 
Goodreads: Cari Schaeffer
Purchase: Faith, Hope, Love, and Chocolate

Author Interview | Cari Schaeffer

You and Writing

Tell us a little bit about yourself: How did you start writing? What has kept you writing?
...Writing this, my first novel, has been such an incredible journey. It started with my love of great books. My family can attest to the fact that I have been known to read a great novel in a day. I’ve read many wonderful books and a few not so great books. In fact, after finishing one particular book that in my opinion was terrible, I slammed it shut and determined to write a novel better than that. I love a great, engaging plot but really don’t like reading explicit material or foul language. I accomplished that goal.

If published, what was the hardest thing about publishing? The easiest?
...There are three ways to become published: Traditional, Indie, or Vanity. Indie and Vanity are under the umbrella of “Self-Publishing”, but they are not the same thing. I immediately dismissed the Vanity option – it requires the author to pay thousands of dollars out of pocket. 

...I am an Indie author, so for me the hardest part was learning the process. Now that I’ve learned it, it is no longer difficult. Initially in my research, I intended to go traditional, but after discovering the narrowness of the funnel and the years involved, I prayed and felt led to go the Indie route. If I had continued on the traditional publishing trajectory, I would most likely be receiving a dribble of the torrent of rejections that would continue on for years. I’m too impatient for that - I have work to do and people to reach. Gatekeepers are no longer necessary.

...The easiest thing about publishing, honestly, is going Indie. It’s an incredibly satisfying and simple route to take that has given me great rewards, both financially and through reader feedback. I couldn’t imagine this journey any other way.

Your Writing

Tell us a little bit about your book. Why did you write it?
...My first novel, Faith, Hope, Love, and Chocolate is the story of a woman who has allowed one horrific experience to warp not only her view of God, but of herself and her worth. I have yet to meet one woman that isn’t somehow injured or broken because of life. I wrote this book with the hope that it will minister to broken women. It deals with death, infertility, infidelity, parenting, marriage, and friendships. I want women to know how incredibly unique and truly priceless we all are, as defined by God, not by others or by life.

...My next work is going to be a trilogy that covers a little more than two decades in military life. There are so many things that those who have not experienced military life don’t really know. I have collected a number of real life stories from those who’ve worn the uniform themselves and those that have supported them. They’re encouraging, heart-breaking, horrifying, and gratifying all at the same time. I hope I can do it justice.

Where do you find inspiration for your story/characters? Are they based on real life or pure imagination or both?
...I find my inspiration from my interactions with people and my experiences in life. In this first novel, the experiences are not based on any one person and none of the experiences are taken straight from anyone’s life. Rather, they are snapshots and stories that I have heard over the years and that have touched me deeply. I took some of those snapshots and stories and, through prayer and much thought, allowed my imagination to weave a fictitious life that a lot of women can relate to.

When you write, what is your overall intention with your stories?
...I want to follow the example Jesus set for us – teach life principles through telling stories. I hope that I can reach my readers through feeling the pain, suffering, laughter, tears, and joy that my characters feel. I write complete resumes for my characters. In some cases, even down to their favorite colors – I want them to be REAL.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors for writing and/or publishing?

...GO FOR IT! If you are led to walk this path, don’t let anyone tell you no. Pray, learn the craft (never stop that, ever) and just jump into the deep end with eyes wide open. There are numerous paths to being published now that allow the author to connect directly with the reader. I look at writing as a written conversation and speaking for myself, I don’t want an interpreter between me and my audience. It’s also important to accept feedback with discernment. Criticism, when offered constructively, is a GOOD thing.


In honor of the fall, what’s your favorite fall treat?
...Oh, boy – I love a really good s’more made with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (Lord have mercy on me…). I actually included some recipes in the back of my novel that the characters enjoy throughout the story and S’Mores Bars is one of them. I love the crimson, gold, and burnt orange colors on the trees and that little nip in the air that allows me to still wear shorts, but requires a sweatshirt, too. Fall is a beautiful time of the year! It means Thanksgiving and Christmas are on the way! How could anyone not love THAT?

Great hearing from you Cari! I love all of the different experiences you've had in life - I'm sure they add a richness to your characters and writing! Your advice to "go for it" is so awesome - I've got a post coming up in a few weeks talking about dreaming and this applies there too :) And oh my--you have me waning Reese's Peanut Butter Cup S'Mores now...

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Where Treetops Glisten WINNER

Had a great turnout last week for my interview with Cara Putman! If you missed it you can read it here. She was gracious to offer a copy of Where Treetops Glisten featuring Cara and two other wonderful authors, Sarah Sundin and Tricia Goyer!

And now, on to this weeks winner...

Sharon Bryant

Congrats Sharon. Email me using the contact form to the left and we'll get your book to you!

And thanks for you all who stopped by to hear more about Cara and to enter the contest! I love doing book giveaways and get the chance often! Aaaannnddd if you stop by tomorrow, you'll get the chance to enter for another book. But mums the word on who my lovely guest is tomorrow ;)

Monday, October 13, 2014

The 7 Snacks of NaNo | NaNoWriMo Prep (part 2)

Forget about writing, I want to talk about FOOD! Specifically, my favorite NaNoWriMo snacks.

They say Rome wasn't built in a day...well I say, my novel wasn't written without amazing snacks. Hum, maybe that doesn't really translate, but oh well.

There are a few key things to think through when choosing the perfect Nano snacks.

1. Accessibility
What can you readily grab from the cupboard or fridge without losing your train of thought?

2. Cleanliness
What can you snack on that won't leave your fingers sticky or require you to wash your hands?

3. Health 
What's relatively healthy but still tastes good?

Here are my top 7 favorite snacks for NaNoWriMo
*P.S. For the sake of this post I shall deem liquids comparable to snacks...don't ask.

1.  Coffee
All day. Every day. All the time :)

2. Pretzels
Love these little guys. Tasty and yet not messy.

3. Carrots & Celery
Meets all the criteria and gives you a satisfying crunch!

4. Tea
Favorites include: Peppermint, Moroccan Mint, Lemon, English or Irish Breakfast (with cream, thank you), and Sugar Plum Spice Tea (bring on the holiday's).

5. Chocolate
You've got to be careful with this one, but M&M's work great - the whole "melt in your mouth not in your hand" thing works very well for writers.

6. Popcorn
Blurs the line slightly here, but I use an air popper machine so there's no butter. Just takes a while to eat so there's a time factor to consider. 

7. Coffee
Oh, er- did I already say that? I guess I could put apples in here too, but coffee just seemed to fit so nicely...

There you have it. Some of my favorite snacks! Did any of mine make your list?

What about you? What are your favorite snack foods? What, in particular, will you be stocking up on for NaNoWriMo?

***See part 1 here.

Friday, October 10, 2014

The Writing Life

From Pinterest
A chill in the air. The smell of pumpkin spice and woodsmoke. Burnt orange and golden leaves.


All of these things inspire me to be creative. I'm naturally a creative person, but something about fall brings out another side of me. All I find myself wanting to do is write or read, drink coffee or tea, and listen to Christmas music. (I may have started already...)

I've been dreaming recently about how much I'd love to just "get away" to a cabin in the woods somewhere. To be surrounded by nature and rely on a wood fire for warmth.

Yes, that does sound amazing. Instead, I live in the city (haha). Not to mention we don't have a fireplace :(

Sometimes we don't get the luxury of doing what we want. I'll talk about this in regard to NaNoWriMo on Monday the 20th, but I wanted to touch on it briefly here.

The writers life isn't always like Jessica Feltcher's from Murder She Wrote (yes, those of you who know me know I love that show).
The writer's life is messy. It's filled with distractions. It's filled with life. 
I used to think that was the absolute worst. Wouldn't it be better if I could be secluded from everyone and just write? (Ooo my introvert is showing). In theory that sounds great, but in reality that would make for a boring novelist.

The things that make your story unique and interesting are likely straight from your life. Whether that's a plot idea or a character trait. Your life is what makes your writing vibrant and alive.

Not that a quiet vacation to a cabin in the woods in the middle of fall wouldn't be absolutely perfect (if someone want's to gift this vacation to me) but realize that type of writing retreat is only profitable when you've been living your life right where you are.

What inspires you? Do you take characters or ideas from your everyday life? Where's your ideal writing vacation spot?

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Cara Putman {Writer Wednesday} + GIVEAWAY

First off, did you like the start to my "NaNoWriMo Prep" series on Monday? [Click here if you missed it]. I'm *so* excited to hear from authors and want-to-be writers who are taking the plunge and starting their Nano prep now. I myself have been vacillating between a few ideas. Make sure you come back next Monday for part 2. I'll be talking about the best part of NaNoWriMo. What's that, you ask? Come back Monday and see >insert evil laugh<.


And now, on to more fun stuff! I'm so excited to introduce you to the lovely and ambitious Cara Putman. I had the pleasure of meeting her at last year's ACFW conference when I took her headshots, and then I got to catch up with her a bit at this year's conference. She has such a sweet heart and a "go get 'em" attitude.

Enter to win a copy of Where Treetops Glisten  with Cara Putman, Tricia Goyer, and Sarah Sundin by leaving a comment below!

A little bit about Cara...

Cara C. Putman, the award-winning author of 19 books, graduated high school at 16, college at 20, and completed her law degree at 27. FIRST for Women magazine called Shadowed by Grace “captivating” and a “novel with ‘the works.’” Cara is active at her church and a lecturer on business and employment law to graduate students at Purdue University’s Krannert School of Management. Putman also practices law and is a second-generation homeschooling mom. Putman is currently pursuing her Master’s in Business Administration at Krannert. She serves on the executive board of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), an organization she has served in various roles since 2007. She lives with her husband and four children in Indiana. 
How to connect with Cara...


Author Interview | Cara Putman

You and Writing

Tell us a little bit about yourself: How did you start writing? What has kept you writing?
...I’ve known I wanted to write since I was a young teen. Because I was homeschooled, one of my English assignments as a 14 year old was to write a bunch of my favorite authors and ask them for advice. It was so fun to get letters from authors like Madeline L’Engle, Janette Oke, Michael Phillips and Sandy Dengler. Then I started college at 16, a career at 20, and got married at 21. Life sped up, but every couple years the desire to write would rise within me. In 2005 God opened the door, I received my first contract in 2006, and in 2007 that first book released. Just a few weeks ago, my 19th book released. It’s been an amazing journey.

Do you have a favorite book or work that you’ve written? If so, why?
...It’s so hard to pick a favorite book. I love my first book, Canteen Dreams, because it combines my grandparents’ story with what my hometown did during WWII. I love Stars in the Night because it allowed me to write a full length WWII novel that combined Hollywood with a body count. And Shadowed by Grace will always be special because it was a journey to writing a story about the Monuments Men but really a story about a woman’s journey to find her earthly and heavenly fathers.

If published, what was the hardest thing about publishing? The easiest?
...The hardest thing about publishing is learning to trust God in the process. I can’t control where my next contract comes from. So I have to lean into Him, and leave this journey to Him while doing what I’m called to do.

Your Writing

Tell us a little bit about your book. Why did you write it?
...The book that released a few weeks ago is Where Treetops Glisten. It was such fun to write because it’s a novella collaboration with my good friends Sarah Sundin and Tricia Goyer. We had such fun developing and writing this collection of stories that follow the Turner siblings through WWII and in their stories of finding healing and love.

Do you have a favorite character in this work? If so, why?
...I love Abigail because she has a heart to help others. She doesn't always know how to do it, but she sees needs and wants to help meet them. She also becomes willing to open her heart over the course of the story…an endeavor which is really hard for her after all the loss she’s experienced.

What is one take-away from your book that you hope readers identify with?
...That God is there in our darkest moments, and He wants us to reach a place of full healing. Not that we’ll ever forget those we have lost, but that we don't have to live mired in the past.


Where do you find inspiration for your story/characters? Are they based on real life or pure imagination or both?
...With my historicals, I often find the inspiration in real life events. Or I’ll pick a setting and work backward to a story. That’s what happened in A Wedding Transpires on Mackinac Island. In Shadowed by Grace I really struggled with the heroine, because I needed her to have a job that would put American women right behind the line. Once I landed on war photojournalist, the rest of her came easily.

When you write, what is your overall intention with your stories?
...I want to encourage people to trust God in new ways.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors for writing and/or publishing?
...Join ACFW. It is an organization that will help you learn the craft and meet people who can help you on your writing journey.


In honor of the fall, what’s your favorite fall treat?
...Apple cider. It just tastes like fall to me.

When you were a child, what did you dream of growing up to be?
...An author, journalists, or elected official. I had lots of dreams :-)

Will you participate in National Novel Writing Month? If so, what’s your plan to keep your writing on track?
...Probably not this year. I have many years, but this year, I’m working on my MBA classes primarily.


Thanks again for stopping by, Cara. I'm so happy to be offering a giveaway of this lovely book - what better way to bring in the holiday's? I love ambitious you are as well, working on your MBA and being a teacher and lawyer and author...whew. It's amazing!

Thinking Thoughts readers - make sure you leave a comment to enter the giveaway and check back next Tuesday to see who wins!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Winner of A White Christmas in Webster County by Laura V. Hilton

Last week I had Laura on the blog talking about her latest release, A White Christmas In Webster County. I'm excited to announce the winner of that giveaway today! Say congrats to...

Denise Tuggle

Make sure and contact me via the contact from on the left so we can get you your book! 

I love that we're kicking off the Christmas season early with some great Christmas giveaways! ANNDDD if this wasn't enough, make sure you come back tomorrow because I've got another guest giving away another amazing Christmas book you will not want to miss!

See you tomorrow :D

Monday, October 6, 2014

7 Suggestions | NaNoWriMo Prep (part 1)

No. It is never too early to start thinking about NaNoWriMo.

What's that, you may ask? Only the best thing to ever happen to November! If you have been living under a rock don't know about NaNoWriMo, then I am happy to be the first to exlplain the amazingness that is...

National Novel Writing Month

(I hear music similar to that playing in a kings court - just so you can accurately complete the mental picture here)

Huzzah! It's almost here. Only 26 more days left to decide what your NaNoWriMo novel will be! Oh the pressure. Oh the planning. Oh the fun!

For those of you who don't know what NaNoWriMo is, it's simple:

You = Writer
Month = From November 1, 12 AM to November 30, 12 AM
Novel = 50,000 words
Rules = No editing, just writing!

Granted, for some, the idea of writing 50,000 words in one month seems daunting - if not completely impossible. Fear not, fellow writers. You can complete this task! I'd like to propose 6 preparatory ideas/undertakings to aid in your novel writing prep.

7 Suggestions...

1. Imagine
Dream. Create. Think What if? This is the fun part....

2. Plot
You may not naturally be a plotter, and that's okay. Your pantzing prep is just as important. I'd recommend deciding on a world, 1 or 2 main characters, and maybe some type of conflict. Hey, it's a start.

3. Prepare
Goes in line with #2, but take some time to write out a few things. Doesn't have to be much, but maybe a little bit for direction.

4. Befriend
That's right. Find a buddy - or several. No sense in doing this alone! There are awesome group meetups in almost every area. Checkout the Nanowrimo website for more info.

5. Count
Hey, when you break it up, it's only 1,667 words a day. Piece of cake...right?

6. Stock
Fill those pantry shelves with snacky goodness. I'll post my favorite NaNo snacks later, but start mentally preparing now.

7. Shout
Yep. Go ahead. Shout it out with me now, "I am writing a novel in the month of November." Make sure everyone hears, because then there's no going back ;)

Come back next Monday for part 2 of this lovely little NaNo series! 

Saturday, October 4, 2014

HAWK by Ronie Kendig | Re:View

Staff Sergeant Brian "Hawk" Bledsoe is just one step ahead of the demons of his past. He's got a quick temper, but he's also a man of his word.

As a pilot, Fekiria Haidary shatters the stereotype for Afghan women. She's headstrong yet brilliant, a winning combination that doesn't escape Hawk's eye.

When the Raptor team is faced with faulty information and Hawk get's separated from his team, he needs to make a crucial decision: protect those in his care or his brothers-in-arms.
Warning: From the moment you open HAWK you will not be able to put it down. Take this into account when attempting to keep a regular schedule or even thinking about sleep at night's not going to happen!

As I've come to expect from Ronie Kendig, HAWK is filled with real emotions, characters that leap off of the page, and action that will thrill the most discerning critic. You will walk away from HAWK feeling the chill of the winter and drawn to the stories detailed within the pages that pass all too quickly. 

I more than recommend this novel, and all of Ronie's books, to any reader. The quality and depth of story are unmatched in my opinion!

Purchase Hawk (The Quiet Professionals Book 2)

Book Description
(from Ronie's website)
Staff Sergeant Brian “Hawk” Bledsoe is a communications expert who takes life with a grain of salt—until he must sacrifice everything to save a humanitarian and her class who come under fire—literally—by the Taliban.
I received a free copy of this book for review purposes, but was under no obligation to read the book or post a review. I do so under my own motivation and the opinions I have expressed in this review are honest and entirely my own.

And while I'm at it, you NEED to know that Raptor 6 by Ronie Kendig is FREE right now on Amazon!!!

Get Raptor 6 (The Quiet Professionals Book 1)

What better way to prep yourself for HAWK than to read (or re-read) Raptor 6?

Trust me, you'll love it!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Writing Through Sickness by Corrine Lussier

I'm away from the blog today and guest posting at The Writer's Alley (stop by and say hi!). In my place, I'd like to introduce you to a dear friend of mine. I've been honored to experience life, church, writing, ministry, and sickness with this amazing woman, and am so blessed to have her on Thinking Thoughts today. Give a warm welcome to my dear friend Corrine.


This probably is one of the more difficult blogs that I have had to write in awhile, especially since I am dealing with the topic of sickness and writing. Let me give you a little background story first.

I have always wanted to be a writer, and throughout college I immensely enjoyed writing short stories. It wasn't until I met Emilie that she challenged me to write an actual novel. She introduced me to National Novel Writing Month (AKA Nanowrimo) and I committed in August of 2013 to writing 50,000 words from November 1st to November 30th.

A lot of people have said that is ambitious as it is, but later that month I was told that I had stage I brain cancer and it was time to radiate. It took a month to pick a plot and expand it, and at the same time a month of getting prepped for radiation which included fitted head masks and getting my ribs tattooed.

The month of November came and I was in way over my head. Not only was I doing my day job, but I was doing my day job while writing a book while doing radiation therapy. I was sick most days but determined to meet the 50,000 word limit. I spent most days plastered to my couch trying desperately to get my foggy brain to work creatively. To this day, it is the most difficult month I have ever endured.

So, now that I have laid out my credentials, I would like to offer up some advice for writing through sickness. One thing I have learned from other writers and Emilie, is that there is no good time to write. If you accept this, then you can move on to actually writing, no matter what life situations you are facing.
  1. Tell Everyone What You are Doing- You don't have to go into plot details, or talk up a storm, but I found that when my family and closest friends knew I was writing a book, there was accountability there. For the whole month of November people were asking me how my book was going. I even got my radiation therapists in on the gig. I would tell them stories to relax me before going in for treatment, and I felt the stress just melt off of me. Soon, they would just ask me what happened to the characters yesterday.
  2. Get a willing writing buddy- This is different than someone who gives you advice on your book and peer edits (AKA critique partner). What I mean by willing writing buddy is someone who recognizes that you are ill, and tries to help you and meet you in time of need. Emilie would come over to my apartment and we would write as often as we could. I generally was more short winded than her, only able to write a couple hours at a time, while she could go for days. Cancer made it difficult for me to get involved in my story, but Emilie thankfully was able to help me see when I needed a break, versus some time to just plot out my troubled story. So, we would take breaks and read or just talk out the plot. Sometimes I just needed to close my eyes while she typed away. 
  3. Know Your Limits- Whether you have a summer cold or cancer, you have limits that are prohibiting you from functioning at a normal speed. It is difficult to accept, but you have to know these limits. There were many days where Emilie was functioning full speed ahead, or at least at a speed that I strongly desired to function at. There were days that all I could think about was being sick, and when is this cancer going to be done and over. I was barely able to complete my job yet alone think about the next portion of my book most days. I could type for 45 minutes at a time and need to take a long nap. You may have to work twice as hard as the next person who is fine and well, but the end result is amazing. Just pace your self.
Being sick in general sucks. No one needs the caveat of saying that they have cancer for people to understand being sick is a major roadblock. Being sick while writing is adding more fuel to the flames. Looking back, I can't believe that I wrote a book while going through treatment for cancer. I can say: I wrote a book while having cancer. I may not be published yet, but I do know hard work during the hard times produces a victory regardless of the situation. And while this may be easier said then done: accept your situation and write, write, write. Who knows what your characters will do.

Corrine is a cancer survivor. English tutor by day, author by night. She loves art, and appreciates trying anything new. Check out her blog: I Said Hello Hurricane and follow her on Twitter: @AwakeningDreams
 Thank you for this Corrine! I love your three points of advice and, honestly, would say they fit for all of us even if we aren't sick at the time. I loved being able to walk that journey with you and look forward to the next Nanowrimo - even if we're on different coasts ;)